Bath 32 Northampton Saints 9: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Campese Ma'afu and Saints were beaten at Bath on Friday night (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Campese Ma'afu and Saints were beaten at Bath on Friday night (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

For the second time this season, success in the Anglo-Welsh Cup proved to be a false dawn for Saints.

Back in November, they beat the Dragons comfortably at Franklin's Gardens before returning to league action at winless Worcester Warriors.

But the talk of momentum garnered from the game against the Welsh region was quickly punctured by a poor away performance and a 30-15 defeat in the Aviva Premiership.

And it was the case again on Friday night as Saints stumbled at Bath.

It looked like it would be so different after a promising opening 25 minutes.

Saints bossed proceedings, with two Piers Francis penalties putting them 6-0 up.

Api Ratuniyarawa was in action for Saints

Api Ratuniyarawa was in action for Saints

But they were then made to pay for not picking up more points from their period of total dominance.

They failed to find a way through a sturdy Bath rearguard, and it came back to bite them.

The home side started to get a foothold in the game and after three Freddie Burns penalties put them ahead, the game's key moment occurred.

Saints' desperation to break down Bath proved their undoing as a sloppy piece of play resulted in Matt Banahan pouncing to score a try that helped his side earn a 10-point lead.

Rob Horne started at centre

Rob Horne started at centre

And Saints simply couldn't respond during a difficult second half.

They had no real spark at any point as Bath comfortably dealt with any minor threat that came their way.

The home side were far from spectacular.

In fact, they were really the best of the worst on the night.

Jamie Gibson competing for a high ball

Jamie Gibson competing for a high ball

And the way they won so comfortably without performing to their full capability showed why they are in the play-off picture and Saints are not.

The league table doesn't lie and there has been little joy for Saints this season.

They have won just five of their 14 games and have not been victorious away from home in the league since September.

They have shown character in 2018, fighting back to beat Gloucester, Clermont Auvergne and Sale Sharks in each of the three competitions.

And one positive during the first half at Bath was that their scrum and lineout looked strong, with some plays off the set piece worthy of praise.

But, ultimately, it was another disappointing away day in the league.

James Wilson faced his former club

James Wilson faced his former club

And with games at Exeter, Newcastle, Leicester and Wasps to come, they will have to vastly improve in all areas if they are to find a second Premiership win on the road this season.

They will expect to shine at home, against London Irish, Sale Sharks and Worcester, with Saracens also to come to the Gardens.

And there is no question of relegation, unless Irish summon up some sort of miracle.

The league's bottom side come to Northampton next Saturday.

And Saints will have to find a way to boss proceedings for more than just 25 minutes on that occasion.

How they rated...


Tried to offer an attacking threat from deep, but couldn't make any inroads and was forced to defend more and more as the game went on... 4


Missed one of two tackles and was given no space to counter-attack as the heroics of the previous week weren't repeated... 4


Plenty of physicality once again from the Australian centre as he tried to put pressure on Bath... 5


Played the pass that eventually led to the Banahan try and that slightly clouded a display that saw him keep Bath on their toes... 4


Was left helpless through no fault of his own as Banahan raced in for a score at the end of the first half and couldn't have much of a say as Saints were on the back foot after that... 4


Kicked well from the tee and to touch, but wasn't able to get a grip on the game as his opposite number took the plaudits... 4


Looked sharp early on as Saints looked to keep the tempo high and he counter-attacked well, but Bath gradually took over... 5


Took Bath on up front and continues to give a reasonable account of himself in Saints colours... 6


Looked secure in the set piece during the first half and produced plenty of energy around the park... 6


Looked strong in the scrum and also put himself about in defence in a decent enough display... 6


Got his hands on the ball on a few occasions, but Bath wrapped him up, stopping him utilising the offloading game he is so good at... 5


Made one huge hit during the first half and threw in a cheeky sidestep as well in a decent showing... 6


Did well to win a penalty for Saints during the first half but didn't find favour with the referee after that... 4


Was so influential against Harlequins a week earlier but though he worked as hard as ever, this wasn't a productive evening for Saints... 5


Played with plenty of fire and desire, particularly during the first period, when he carried hard, but his efforts were eventually in vain... 5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

FRANCOIS VAN WYK (for Ma'afu 57)

Wasn't able to have a real say as Saints were well behind when he was brought on and Bath really took hold up front... 4

JAMAL FORD-ROBINSON (for Brookes 57)

Bath started to shift Saints around and it wasn't an easy end to the game for the visiting forwards... 4

NIC GROOM (for Reinach 57)

Didn't have much possession to work with, though he did provide some pace when he got a chance to sprint forward... 4

HARRY MALLINDER (for Francis 57)

Was released by England earlier in the week and tried to get his club going, but there were few opportunities over the halfway line... 4

CHRON STAR MAN - Freddie Burns (Bath)